BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU head coach Paul Mainieri always seems to have his team playing better than anybody when they get to Hoover and the SEC Tournament in May, but right now, the rest of the SEC has the more impressive numbers, including Missouri, which comes to The Box this weekend with a national RPI of 16, compared to 116 for the Tigers.
"You look at the records of these other (SEC) teams, my goodness," said Mainieri before Thursday afternoon's practice. "I mean, 17-and-1, two or three teams I think. Sixteen-and-2, I mean they're all good ball clubs and I think it just shows that when we play other teams around the country, it shows how good the SEC is."
The SEC has 10 of the top 50 RPIs entering the first weekend of the conference schedule. Auburn and Ole Miss are in the Top 10 with 17-1 records. Missouri is next with a 14-3 mark, and brings a nine-game winning streak to Baton Rouge. However, Missouri had a 20-game win streak after the first weekend of conference play last year, including a sweep at Alabama, yet was only 11-16 the rest of the season in league games.
"You know, you can look at the ERA and see that we're dead last in the SEC as we're entering into the SEC competition, but I think we've challenged them against really good competition. I also think we had one weekend from hell with our pitching, you know, really, the first four games of the season," Mainieri admitted.
LSU lost an opening weekend series to Notre Dame (7-8, RPI 115) and its other high-profile non-conference weekend opponents Texas (9-9, RPI 107) and Hawaii (8-6, RPI 113) are off to mediocre starts.
Only South Carolina (12-5, RPI 127) has a lower RPI in the SEC than LSU starting conference play.